Packaged samples of cream, or individual packs for glasses or hygienic wipes. Sachets are more sustainable when they are made from mono-films (Photo: Kier In Sight / unsplash)
Customers' demands for sustainable packaging solutions have grown louder and louder. One solution that is applied more and more often in the food and cosmetics industry is refilling systems. They save on material and encourage people to switch from hard plastic packaging to flexible alternatives like bags.This can have advantages for recycling, customers also need to carry less weight when shopping and they produce less packaging waste.
However, manufacturers of packaging also face a problem when they want to develop particularly sustainable bags and sachets that can be recycled. In order to protect sensitive goods like food and cosmetics, a barrier layer is usually needed, which is often made of plastic. These layers often reduce the packaging's recyclability. However, companies continue to develop novel solutions to counter this problem.
Under the brand name MonoFlex, the Coveris company offers a whole range of mono-materials, including a stand-up bag for liquid soap. (Image: Coveris)
One such solution, used among other things for refilling packages of liquid soap, comes from Coveris. Under the brand name "MonoFlex", the company is marketing several different solutions for easy recycling. There are vertical and horizontal filling bags and sealed bags as well as stand-up bags, made from the mono-material polyethylene (PE) and which reduce the amount of plastic consumed by 75 % compared to hard plastic bags. The goal of Coveris was to create packaging that is recyclable and at the same time reduces plastic waste.
This packaging not only helps protect the environment by using less plastic and reducing waste. Customers, too, benefit from positive changes. For one, the bags are noticeably lighter – there is less weight to carry from the supermarket to the bathroom at home, and transportation is easier on the environment. The new packaging is supposed to let customers smell the products, too, and as the material is flexible, it is possible to empty the packaging entirely.
Protecting products with novel types of barriers
The sachets by V-Shapes are intended for single doses and can be opened with one hand. (Image: V-Shapes)
Refilling systems are especially suited to products that are used frequently and usually come in large containers. When it comes to smaller amounts of product or single doses, sachets are a possible solution. One solution for on-demand production comes from V-Shapes. This Italian company produces sachets for packaging individual doses, and packages pharmaceutical or cosmetic products, or food, for example.
Thanks to a newly developed substrate, the sachets are now 100% recyclable. They are made of polypropylene (PP) with a strong barrier function, which however does not reduce their recyclability. The company had this certified by Interseroh. The sachets can be detected in the waste flow, sorted and recycled. As the sachets can hold small quantities of liquid or semi-solid products, they are also suited for samples and are popular with customers as travel versions. This packaging, too, is lightweight and, according the manufacturer, can be recycled the world over.
Christian Burattini, CEO of V-Shapes. (Image: V-Shapes)
„The two new substrates, reNEW oX-100 and reNEW oX-500, were developed in-house at V-Shapes, and are made of one layer of PP copolymers (PPC) that has a high-performance barrier function. They can be detected in the waste flow, sorted and recycled. Both substrates were evaluated by Interseroh in terms of their suitability for mechanical recycling and their ability to provide secondary products, and were rated at the top of the scale.“
Christian Burattini, CEO V-Shapes
Whether you are looking to reduce plastic or increase the recyclability of the new barrier layer: bags and sachets are becoming increasingly sustainable through innovative development and new concepts like refilling systems. Recycling turns the bag materials into new resources and products. Customers have to deal with less packaging waste, and new technology offers optimal protection of products in spite of the reduction in material. Cooperation between companies is another important factor on the way to a complete circular economy. V-Shapes, for example, developed their sachets in cooperation with a big packaging manufacturer.